Greenhouse gas sources and sinks: executive summary 2019

An inventory of the greenhouse gases in Canada for the year.

ES.1 Key points

  • In 2017,  the most recent annual dataset in this report, Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 716 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq), a net decrease of 15 Mt or 2.0% from 2005 emissions.
  • Over the long term, Canada’s economy has grown more rapidly than its GHG emissions: the emissions intensity for the entire economy (GHG per Gross Domestic Product [GDP]) has declined by 36% since 1990 and 20% since 2005.
  • Emission trends since 2005 remain consistent, with emission increases in the Oil and Gas and Transportation sectors being more than offset by decreases in other sectors, notably Electricity and Heavy Industry.
  • Recent year fluctuations in emissions are due to the combined effect of the growing use of non-emitting sources of electricity; the impact of natural events on industrial operations such as the Fort McMurray wildfires in Alberta; economic factors impacting industrial production; as well as variability in winter weather and resulting heating demands.
  • Going forward, the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change puts Canada on the pathway to reduce its emissions in the long-term in order to meet its 2030 target. The Framework is a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions across all sectors of Canada’s economy, stimulate clean economic growth and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.

ES.2 Introduction

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international treaty established in 1992 to cooperatively address climate change issues. The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to stabilize atmospheric GHG concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system. Canada ratified the UNFCCC in December 1992, and the Convention came into force in March 1994.

To achieve its objective and implement its provisions, the UNFCCC lays out several guiding principles and commitments. Specifically, Articles 4 and 12 commit all Parties to develop, periodically update, publish and make available to the Conference of the Parties (COP) their national inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of all GHGs not controlled by the Montreal Protocol.Footnote 1

Canada’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory is prepared and submitted annually to the UNFCCC by April 15 of each year, in accordance with the revised Guidelines for the preparation of national communications by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, Part I: UNFCCC reporting guidelines on annual inventories (UNFCCC Reporting Guidelines), adopted through Decision 24/CP.19 in 2013. The annual inventory submission consists of the National Inventory Report (NIR) and the Common Reporting Format (CRF) tables.

The GHG inventory includes emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) in the following five sectors: Energy; Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU); Agriculture; Waste; and Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). The GHG emission and removal estimates contained in Canada’s GHG inventory are developed using methodologies consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2006 Guidelines for the preparation of National GHG Inventories. In line with the principle of continuous improvement, the underlying data and methodology for estimating emissions are revised over time; hence, total emissions in all years are subject to change as both data and methods are improved.

In May 2015, Canada indicated its intent to reduce GHG emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. In December 2015 at COP 21, Canada, alongside the other countries of the world, reached an ambitious and balanced agreement, which was supported by the Prime Minister and all provincial and territorial premiers within Vancouver Declaration of March 2016. Since 2005 was adopted as a base year for both Canada’s 2020 and 2030 targets many of the metrics in this report are presented in that context, in addition to the 1990 base year as required by the UNFCCC Reporting Guidelines.

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF) was adopted on December 9, 2016 as Canada’s plan to take ambitious action to fight climate change, build resilience to a changing climate, and drive clean economic growth. It is the first climate change plan in Canada’s history to include joint and individual commitments by federal, provincial and territorial levels of government, and to have been developed with input from Indigenous Peoples, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and Canadians from across the country. The PCF is built on four pillars: pricing carbon pollution, complementary actions to reduce emissions across the economy, adaptation and climate resilience, and clean technology, innovation, and jobs. It includes more than fifty concrete actions that cover all sectors of the Canadian economy, and puts Canada on a path towards meeting our Paris Agreement GHG emissions reduction target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Pricing carbon pollution is central to Canada’s plan. It is the most efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and helps drive innovation and clean growth. Provinces and territories had the flexibility to implement either an explicit price-based system or cap-and-trade system. A federal carbon pollution pricing system will apply in any province or territory that requests it or that does not have a system in place that meets federal requirements. This federal system has two parts: a regulatory charge on fossil fuels, and a performance-based system for large industry, known as the output-based pricing system (OBPS). In most jurisdictions, the OBPS went into effect January 1, 2019, and the fuel charge took effect on April 1, 2019. Pricing systems in the territories will take effect July 1, 2019.

The complementary mitigation measures included in the PCF will enable Canada to achieve emissions reductions across all sectors. Expanding the use of clean electricity and low-carbon fuels are foundational actions that will reduce emissions across the economy. Canada is taking action to reduce energy use including by improving energy efficiency, encouraging fuel switching and developing “net-zero energy ready” building codes. Canada’s climate plan is supported by historic investments in public transit ($28.7 billion); green infrastructure ($26.9 billion) such as renewable energy, smart grid and electric vehicle charging stations; clean technology initiatives ($2.3 billion); and the Low Carbon Economy Fund ($2 billion).

The PCF also recognizes the importance of building climate resilience and sets out measures to help Canadians understand, plan for and take action to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. Canada launched the Canadian Centre for Climate Services to improve access to climate science, serve as the authoritative federal source for climate information and resources and strengthen capacity to incorporate climate change considerations in adaptation decision-making. As well, implementation of the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund ($2 billion) will help address climate risks and protect communities from natural disasters.

To support clean growth, Canada is unrolling investments of $2.3 billion in clean technology including nearly $1.4 billion in financing dedicated to supporting clean technology firms and $400 million to support the development and demonstration of clean technologies. In addition, the Government of Canada’s Clean Growth Hub provides a single point of contact for access to clean technology knowledge, expertise, and relationships across the federal government. Canada’s most recent greenhouse gas emissions projections (ECCC 2018a) estimated that Canada’s GHG emissions in 2030 will be 223 million tonnes lower than projected prior to the PCF. This improvement in Canada’s emissions outlook reflects the breadth and depth of Canada’s climate plan. When the PCF is fully implemented, it will put Canada on a path towards meeting our 2030 target and to continue to achieve emission reductions beyond 2030.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments collectively report on how our climate commitments are translating into action; the second Annual Synthesis Report on the Status of PCF Implementation was released in December 2018 (ECCC 2018b). Continued collaboration between federal, provincial, and territorial governments as well as partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and engagement with Canadians remain a cornerstone of PCF implementation.

Section ES.3 of this Executive Summary summarizes the latest information on Canada’s net anthropogenic (i.e. human-induced) GHG emissions over the 2005–2017 period and links this information to relevant indicators of the Canadian economy. Section ES.4 outlines the major trends in emissions.

For the purposes of analyzing economic trends and policies, it is useful to allocate emissions to the economic sector from which they originate. Section ES.5 presents Canada’s emissions by the following economic sectors: Oil and Gas, Electricity, Transportation, Heavy Industry, Buildings, Agriculture, Waste and Others. Throughout this report, the word “sector” generally refers to activity sectors as defined by the IPCC for national GHG inventories; exceptions occur when the expression “economic sectors” is used in reference to the Canadian context.

Section ES.6 details GHG emissions for Canada’s 13 sub-national jurisdictions. Finally, Section ES.7 provides some detail on the components of this submission and outlines key elements of its preparation.

ES.3 Overview, national greenhouse gas emissions

In 2017, the most recent annual dataset in this report, Canada’s GHG emissions were 716 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq),Footnote 2  a net decrease of 15 Mt or 2.0% from 2005 emissions (Figure ES-1).Footnote 3  During this period, Canada’s economy has grown more rapidly than its GHG emissions. As a result, the emissions intensity for the entire economy (GHG per GDP) has declined by 36% since 1990 and 20% since 2005 (Figure ES-1 and Table ES-1). The decline in emissions intensity can be attributed to fuel switching, increases in efficiency, the modernization of industrial processes and structural changes in the economy. Through the approach outlined in Section ES.2, Canada is on a path towards meeting its target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

From 2016 to 2017, Canada’s emissions increased by 8 Mt. This fluctuation is due to the combined effect of multiple factors, some as part of longstanding trends and some more unique, including: an increase in the percentage of non-emitting sources of electricity (-2.6 Mt between 2016 and 2017); events impacting oil sands production, including the 2016 fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta and the resumption of activities in 2017(+8Mt between 2016 and 2017); variability in winter weather, which influences emissions related to heating (+2.9 Mt between 2016 and 2017); variations in production levels and the use of fossil fuels in industrial sectors (+0.1 Mt between 2016 and 2017). Emission estimates for the latest year of the time series are based on preliminary data from Statistics Canada’s Energy Balance (RESD, see Annex 3 in Part II of this report). Revisions of latest estimates commonly occur upon finalization of this key input data set and are implemented in the following edition of the NIR. Over the last 5 years, these revisions accounted on average for recalculations of ±0.47% (or up to 6 Mt) of the latest estimates. Overall recalculations to the latest year’s estimates have averaged ±0.66%, well within the 2% uncertainty range about total emissions.

These year-to-year fluctuations are superimposed over actual trends observed over a longer time period; these trends and their drivers are summarized in the remainder of this Executive Summary and described in greater detail in Chapter 2 of this report.

Figure ES-1: Canadian greenhouse gas emissions and indexed trend emission intensity (excluding Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry)

Figure S-2:  Canadian greenhouse gas emissions and indexed trend emission intensity (excluding Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry)

Notes:

1. Emissions do not yet reflect the impact of the most recent mitigation policies. Total emissions fall within a 2% uncertainty range.

2. GDP Data Source: StatCan a

Long description for Figure ES-1

Figure ES-1 is a line graph displaying actual GHG emissions (Mt CO2 eq.) on one line and indexed trends of GHG emissions per GDP (Emissions intensity)(Index [1990 = 100]) on another. The following table displays both GHG emissions and GHG emissions per GDP from 1990 to 2017.

Canadian greenhouse gas emissions and indexed trend emission intensity (excluding Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry)
Year GHG emissions Indexed GHGs per GDP (emission intensity)
1990 602 100.0
1991 593 100.6
1992 610 102.6
1993 612 100.4
1994 634 99.1
1995 651 99.2
1996 672 100.8
1997 687 98.6
1998 695 96.0
1999 707 92.6
2000 731 90.7
2001 720 88.1
2002 724 86.1
2003 741 86.5
2004 743 84.2
2005 730 80.2
2006 721 77.3
2007 744 78.0
2008 723 75.1
2009 682 73.1
2010 693 72.1
2011 703 71.0
2012 711 70.7
2013 722 70.1
2014 723 68.2
2015 722 67.7
2016 708 65.8
2017 716 64.3
Table ES-1: Trends in emissions and economic indicators, selected years
Year 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Total GHG (Mt) 730 711 722 723 722 708 716
Change since 2005 (%) Not applicable (NA) -2.6% -1.1% -1.0% -1.1% -3.1% -2.0%
GDP (Billion 2007$) 1 651 1 823 1 867 1 921 1 933 1 949 2 016
Change since 2005 (%) NA 10% 13% 16% 17% 18% 22%
GHG Intensity (Mt/$B GDP) 0.44 0.39 0.39 0.38 0.37 0.36 0.36
Change since 2005 (%) NA -12% -13% -15% -16% -18% -20%

GDP Data Source: StatCan n.d. (a)

NA = Not applicable

In 2017, the Energy sector (consisting of Stationary Combustion, Transport and Fugitive Sources) emitted 583 Mt of greenhouse gases, or 82% of Canada’s total GHG emissions (Figure ES-2). The remaining emissions were largely generated by the Agriculture and IPPU sectors (approximately 8% each), with minor contributions from the Waste sector (3%). In 2017, the LULUCF sector removed 24 Mt of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Canada’s emissions profile is similar to that of most industrialized countries, in that CO2 is the largest contributor to total emissions, accounting for 80% of total emissions in 2017 (Figure ES-3). The majority of the CO2 emissions in Canada result from the combustion of fossil fuels. CH4 emissions in 2017 amounted to 93 Mt or 13% of Canada’s total. These emissions consist largely of fugitive emissions from oil and natural gas systems, agriculture and landfills. N2O emissions mostly arise from agricultural soil management and transport, and accounted for 38 Mt or 5.3% of Canada’s emissions in 2017. Emissions of synthetic gases (HFCs, PFCs, SF6 and NF3) constituted slightly less than 2%.

Figure ES-2: Breakdown of Canada’s emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector (2017)*

Figure S-3:  Breakdown of Canada’s emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector (2017)

2017 national total: 716 Mt CO2 eq

*Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Long description for Figure ES-2

Figure ES-2 is a pie chart displaying the breakdown of Canada's GHG emissions by IPCC sectors for 2017. These sectors are the following: Energy— Stationary Combustion Sources, Energy—Transport, Energy—Fugitive Sources, Industrial Processes and Product Use, Agriculture and Waste. The total GHG emissions equals 716 (Mt CO2 eq.). The following table displays the breakdown of the GHG emissions for 2017.

Breakdown of Canada’s emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector (2017)
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sector Mt CO2 eq %
Total 716 100%
Energy-Stationary Combustion Sources 327 46%
Energy-Transport 201 28%
Energy-Fugitive Sources 56 7.8%
Industrial Processes and Product Use 54 7.5%
Agriculture 60 8.4%
Waste 19 2.6%

Figure ES-3: Breadown of Canada’s emissions by greenhouse gas (2017)*

Figure S-4:  Breadown of Canada’s emissions by greenhouse gas (2017)

2017 national total: 716 Mt CO2 eq

*Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Long description for Figure ES-3

Figure S-3 is a pie chart displaying the breakdown of Canada’s emissions by greenhouse gas for 2017. The seven greenhouse gases are the following: CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6 and NF3. The following table displays the breakdown of the GHG emissions (Mt CO2 eq) (%) for 2017.

Breadown of Canada’s emissions by greenhouse gas (2017) Mt CO2 eq %
Total 716 100%
CO2 571 80%
CH4 93 13%
N2O 38 5.3%
HFCs, PFCs, SF6 & NF3 14 1.9%

Canada represented approximately 1.6% of global GHG emissions in 2015 (CAIT 2017), although it is one of the highest per capita emitters. Canada’s per capita emissions have dropped substantially since 2005, when this indicator was 22.7 t CO2 eq/capita, reaching a new low of 19.5 t CO2 eq/capita in recent years (Figure ES-4).

Figure ES-4:  Canadian per capita greenhouse gas emissions (2005 to 2017)

Figure S-5:  Canadian per capita greenhouse gas emissions (2005 to 2017)

Population data source: StatCan b

Long description for Figure ES-4

Figure ES-4 is a bar chart displaying the Canadian per capita GHG emissions from 2005 to 2017. The following table displays the emissions (GHG/capita [t CO2 eq/capita]) from 2005 to 2017.

Canadian per capita greenhouse gas emissions (2005 to 2017)
Year GHG/capita (t CO2 eq/capita)
2005 22.7
2006 22.2
2007 22.6
2008 21.8
2009 20.3
2010 20.4
2011 20.5
2012 20.5
2013 20.5
2014 20.3
2015 20.1
2016 19.5
2017 19.5

ES.4 Emissions and trends by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sectors

Trends in emissions

Over the 2005–2017 period, total emissions decreased by 15 Mt or 2.0 % (Figure ES-5). The Energy Sector dominated this trend, with emission decreases of 15 Mt (4%) in Stationary Combustion Sources and 5 Mt (9%) in Fugitive Sources (Table ES-2). Over the same period, emissions also decreased by 1.8 Mt (3%) in the IPPU Sector and 1.4 Mt (7%) in the Waste Sector. However, emissions from Transport increased by 9.0 Mt (5%) partially offsetting the decreases from the other sectors (Figure ES-6).

Figure ES-5: Trends in Canadian greenhouse gas emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector (2005 to 2017)

Figure S-6:  Trends in Canadian greenhouse gas emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector (2005 to 2017)
Long description for Figure ES-5

Figure ES-5 is a bar chart displaying the trends in Canadian GHG emissions by seven IPCC sectors from 2005 to 2017. The seven IPCC sectors are the following: Energy (Stationary Combustion), Energy (Transport), Energy (Fugitive Sources), Industrial Process and Product Use, Agriculture, Waste and Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry. The following table displays the trends in the GHG emissions (Mt CO2 eq) for all seven sectors from 2005 to 2017.

Trends in Canadian greenhouse gas emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector (2005 to 2017) (Mt CO 2 eq)
Year Energy (Stationary Combustion) Energy (Transport) Energy (Fugitive Sources) Industrial Processes and Product Use Agriculture Waste Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry
2005 342 192 61 56 60 20 -21
2006 333 191 61 56 58 21 -30
2007 354 195 61 55 58 21 -32
2008 338 194 59 54 58 20 -37
2009 316 189 55 47 56 19 -49
2010 318 197 55 51 55 18 -32
2011 324 197 55 54 55 18 -33
2012 323 197 59 58 57 18 -36
2013 327 202 61 55 59 18 -33
2014 331 200 63 53 58 19 -32
2015 330 202 60 53 58 19 -25
2016 320 201 55 55 59 19 -25
2017 325 201 56 54 60 19 -24

Since 2009, when emissions were at their lowest in the latest decade, emission increases are driven by growth in Oil and Gas Extraction (34 Mt); in the number of light-duty gasoline trucks (8.4 Mt) and heavy-duty diesel vehicles in operation (6.8 Mt); in the consumption of halocarbons, SF6 and NF3 (5.8 Mt); and in the application of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers (3.9 Mt). During the same period, there was a 21 Mt decrease in emissions from electricity generation, which partly offset the growth in emissions.

Chapter 2 provides more information on trends in GHG emissions from both 1990 and 2005 and their driversFootnote 4 . Further breakdowns of emissions and a complete time series can be found at Government of Canada’s Open Data website.

Table ES-2: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector, selected years, total (Mt CO2 eq)
Greenhouse gas categories Source Sector 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Total nil nil 730 711 722 723 722 708 716

Totals may not add up due to rounding.

National totals exclude all GHGs from the Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry Sector.

This summary data is presented in more detail at Government of Canada’s Open Data website.

Table ES-2: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector, selected years, energy category (Mt CO2 eq)
Greenhouse gas category Source Sector 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Total nil nil 595 578 589 594 592 575 583
Energy a. Stationary Combustion Sources nil 342 323 327 331 330 320 327
Energy a. Stationary Combustion Sources Public Electricity and Heat Production 125 91 87 84 87 81 79
Energy a. Stationary Combustion Sources Petroleum Refining Industries 20 19 18 18 18 18 18
Energy a. Stationary Combustion Sources Oil and Gas Extraction 63 86 92 97 99 100 106
Energy a. Stationary Combustion Sources Mining 4.3 6.0 5.4 5.0 4.6 4.3 3.9
Energy a. Stationary Combustion Sources Manufacturing Industrie 48 44 45 45 44 42 43
Energy a. Stationary Combustion Sources Construction 1.5 1.4 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.3
Energy a. Stationary Combustion Sources Commercial and Institutional 33 29 30 31 30 30 31
Energy a. Stationary Combustion Sources Residential 46 42 44 46 43 39 41
Energy a. Stationary Combustion Sources Agriculture and Forestry 2.2 3.8 3.8 3.8 3.6 3.8 3.7
Energy b. Transport Nil 192 197 202 200 202 201 201
Energy b. Transport Domestic Aviation 7.6 7.3 7.6 7.2 7.1 7.1 7.1
Energy b. Transport Road Transportation 130 140 144 141 143 145 144
Energy b. Transport Railways 6.6 7.6 7.3 7.5 7.1 6.5 6.6
Energy b. Transport Domestic Navigation 6.4 5.6 5.2 4.8 4.7 3.6 4.4
Energy b. Transport Other Transportation 42 36 38 39 40 39 40
Energy c. Fugitive Sources Nil 61 59 61 63 60 55 56
Energy c. Fugitive Sources Coal Mining 1.4 1.4 1.5 1.3 1.1 1.3 1.1
Energy c. Fugitive Sources Oil and Natural Gas 60 57 59 61 59 54 54
Energy d. CO2 Transport and Storage Nil <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05
Table ES-2: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector, selected years, industrial processes and product use category (Mt CO2 eq)
Greenhouse gas category Source Sector 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Total nil nil 56 58 55 53 47 55 54
Industrial processes and product use a. Mineral Products nil 10 8.5 7.8 7.8 8.1 7.9 8.5
Industrial processes and product use b. Chemical Industry nil 9.5 6.4 6.4 6.0 6.5 6.6 5.8
Industrial processes and product use c. Metal Production nil 20 17 15 15 14 16 16
Industrial processes and product use d. Production and Consumption of Halocarbons, SF6 and NF3 nil 5.1 9.1 9.4 10 11 12 13
Industrial processes and product use e. Non-Energy Products from Fuels and Solvent Use nil 10 17 16 13 12 12 10
Industrial processes and product use f. Other Product Manufacture and Use nil 0.53 0.53 0.56 0.49 0.58 0.66 0.71
Table ES-2: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector, selected years, agriculture category (Mt CO2 eq)
Greenhouse gas category Source Sector 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Total nil nil 60 57 59 58 58 59 60
Agriculture a. Enteric Fermentation nil 31 25 25 24 24 24 24
Agriculture b. Manure Management nil 8.8 7.7 7.8 7.7 7.8 7.9 8.0
Agriculture c.  Agricultural Soils nil 19 22 24 23 24 24 25
Agriculture d.  Field Burning of Agricultural Residues nil <0.05 <0.05 0.05 0.05 0.06 0.05 0.05
Agriculture e.  Liming, Urea Application and Other Carbon-containing Fertilizers nil 1.4 2.3 2.7 2.5 2.6 2.5 2.5
Table ES-2: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector, selected years, waste category (Mt CO2 eq)
Greenhouse gas category Source Sector 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Total nil nil 20 18 18 19 19 19 19
Waste a. Solid Waste Disposal nil 18 16 16 17 17 17 17
Waste b. Biological Treatment of Solid Waste nil 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.4
Waste c. Wastewater Treatment and Discharge nil 1.0 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.2
Waste d. Incineration and Open Burning of Waste nil 0.6 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4
Table ES-2: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector, selected years, land use, land-use change and forestry category (Mt CO2 eq)
Greenhouse gas category Source Sector 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Total nil nil - 21 - 36 - 33 - 32 - 25 - 25 - 24
Land use, land-use change and forestry a. Forest Land nil - 160 - 160 - 160 - 160 - 150 - 150 - 150
Land use, land-use change and forestry b. Cropland nil - 11 - 11 - 10 - 9.5 - 8.6 - 7.8 - 6.8
Land use, land-use change and forestry c. Grassland nil <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05
Land use, land-use change and forestry d. Wetlands nil 3.1 3.0 3.0 3.1 2.9 2.9 3.2
Land use, land-use change and forestry e. Settlements nil 3.8 3.7 3.8 3.9 3.9 3.8 3.5
Land use, land-use change and forestry f. Harvested Wood Products nil 140 130 130 130 130 130 130

Figure ES-6: Changes in emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector (2005 to 2017)

Figure S-7:  Changes in emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector (2005 to 2017)
Long description for Figure ES-6

Figure ES-6 is a bar chart displaying the total change and changes by IPCC sectors in GHG emissions from 2005 to 2017. The IPCC sectors are the following: Energy (Stationary Combustion), Energy (Transport), Energy (Fugitive Sources), Industrial Process and Product Use, Agriculture and Waste. The following table displays the changes in the GHG emissions (Mt CO2 eq) (%) from 2005 to 2017.

Changes in emissions by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sector (2005 to 2017)
IPCC sector Net change in emissions (Mt CO2 eq) %
Total Change -15 -2%
Energy:
Stationary Combustion
-15 -4%
Energy:
Transport
9 5%
Energy:
Fugitive Sources
-5 -9%
Industrial Processes and Product Use -2 -3%
Agriculture 0 0%
Waste -1 -7%

The following describes the emissions and trends of each IPCC sector in further detail.

Energy—2017 greenhouse gas emissions (583 Mt)

In 2017, GHG emissions from the IPCC Energy sector (583 Mt) were 1.9% lower than in 2005 (595 Mt). Within the Energy sector, the 43 Mt increase in emissions from Oil and Gas Extraction was offset by a 46 Mt decrease in emissions from Public Electricity and Heat Production.

Decreasing electricity generation from coal and oil (40% and 70% decrease, respectively), accompanied by a 17% increase in hydro, nuclear and wind generation, was a large driver of the 37% decrease in emissions associated with Electricity and Heat Production between 2005 and 2017. The permanent closure of all coal generating stations in Ontario by 2014 contributed 77% of the decreased coal consumption,Footnote 5  although reduced coal consumption also occurred in Alberta (14%), Nova Scotia (5%), New Brunswick (2%), Manitoba (1%) and Saskatchewan (1%). Decreased oil consumption for electricity generation occurred in New Brunswick (77%), Nova Scotia (18%), Ontario (8%), and Quebec (3%). Minor emission fluctuations over the period reflect variations in the mix of electricity generation sources.Footnote 6

GHG emissions from Manufacturing Industries decreased by 5.5 Mt between 2005 and 2017, consistent with both a 13% decrease in energy use and an observed decline in outputFootnote 7  in these industries.

A 158% rise in the extraction of bitumen and synthetic crude oil from Canada’s oil sands operations since 2005 explains the 43 Mt increase in emissions from fuel consumption by Oil and Gas Extraction.

The majority of transport emissions in Canada are related to Road Transportation, which includes personal transportation (light-duty vehicles and trucks) and heavy duty vehicles. The growth in road transport emissions is largely due to more driving. Despite a reduction in kilometres driven per vehicle, the total vehicle fleet has increased by 37% since 2005, most notably for trucks (both light- and heavy-duty), leading to more kilometres driven overall.

Industrial processes and product use—2017 greenhouse gas emissions (54 Mt)

The Industrial Processes and Product Use sector covers non-energy GHG emissions that result from manufacturing processes and use of products, such as limestone calcination in cement production and the use of HFCs and PFCs as replacement refrigerants for ozone-depleting substances (ODSs). Emissions from the IPPU sector contributed 54 Mt (7.6%) to Canada’s 2017 emissions.

Between 2005 and 2017, process emissions from most IPPU categories decreased. A notable exception is the 7.5 Mt (146%) increase in emissions from the use of HFCs.

The aluminium industry has decreased its process emissions since 1990, largely due to technological improvements introduced to mitigate PFC emissions. Closure of primary magnesium plants in 2003, 2007 and 2008 also contributed to the drop in process emissions from Metal Production. The overall decrease in GHG emissions from chemical industries since 1990 is primarily the result of the closure in 2009 of the sole Canadian adipic acid plant located in Ontario; since 2009 the emissions from chemical industries have remained relatively stable.

Agriculture—2017 greenhouse gas emissions (60 Mt)

The Agriculture sector covers non-energy GHG emissions relating to the production of crops and livestock. Emissions from Agriculture accounted for 60 Mt, or 8.4% of total GHG emissions for Canada in 2017, unchanged from 2005 levels.

In 2017, Agriculture accounted for 30% of national CH4 emissions and 77% of national N2O emissions.

The main drivers of the emission trend in the Agriculture sector are the fluctuations in livestock populations and the application of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers to agricultural soils in the Prairie provinces. Since 2005, fertilizer use has increased by 71%, while major livestock populations peaked in 2005, then decreased sharply until 2011. In 2017, emissions from livestock digestion (enteric fermentation) accounted for 40% of total agricultural emissions, and the application of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers accounted for 23% of total agricultural emissions.

Waste—2017 greenhouse gas emissions (20 Mt)

The Waste sector includes GHG emissions from the treatment and disposal of liquid and solid wastes. Emissions from Waste contributed 19 Mt (2.6%) to Canada’s total emissions in 2017 and 20 Mt (2.8%) in 2005.

The primary source of emissions in the Waste sector is Solid Waste Disposal (SWD) (16.7 Mt CO2 eq in 2017), which includes municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills (13.2 Mt in 2017) and wood waste landfills (3.5 Mt in 2017). In 2017, Solid Waste Disposal accounted for 89% of Waste emissions, while Biological Treatment of Solid Waste (composting), Wastewater Treatment and Discharge, and Incineration and Open Burning of Waste contributed the remaining 11%.

CH4 emissions from publicly and privately owned MSW landfills make up 79% of emissions from SWD; these emissions decreased by 5.4% between 2005 and 2017. Of the 26 Mt CO2 eq of CH4 generated by MSW landfills in 2017, only 13 Mt (51%) were actually emitted to the atmosphere. A significant portion (43% or 1 Mt) of the generated CH4 was captured by landfill gas collection facilities—compared with 32% in 2005—and a smaller portion (6% or 1 Mt) was oxidized by landfill cover material.

Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry—2017 (net greenhouse gas removals of 24 Mt) 

The Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector reports anthropogenic GHG fluxes between the atmosphere and Canada’s managed lands, including those associated with land-use change and emissions from Harvested Wood Products (HWP), which are closely linked to Forest Land.

In this sector, the net flux is calculated as the sum of CO2 and non-CO2 emissions to the atmosphere and CO2 removals from the atmosphere. In 2017, this net flux amounted to net removals of 24 Mt, which, if included, would decrease total Canadian GHG emissions by 3.3%.

Net removals from the LULUCF sector have fluctuated over recent years, increasing from 21 Mt in 2005 to 49 Mt in 2009 and have since decreased to 24 Mt in 2017. Fluctuations are driven mainly by variations in emissions from HWP and removals from Forest Land that are closely tied to harvest rates.

The Forest Land estimates partition the emissions and removals resulting from significant natural disturbances on managed forests (wildfires and insects), revealing trends associated with anthropogenic forest management activities. Net removals have fluctuated between 160 Mt to a minimum of 150 Mt over the period between 2005 and 2017, as forests recover from peak harvest rates and low-level insect disturbances occurring in the early 2000s. Over this same period, emissions from HWP originating from domestic harvest declined from 140 Mt in 2005 to a low of 120 Mt in 2009 (the year of the lowest harvest rates), and have since increased to 130 Mt in 2017. Approximately 29% of HWP emissions result from long-lived wood products reaching the end of their economic life decades after the wood was harvested. Hence emission and removal patterns in both HWP and Forest Land are influenced by recent forest management trends and by the long-term impact of forest management that occurred in past decades.

Current net removals from Cropland are lower than those in 2005. GHG removals in cropland peaked in 2006 at 12 Mt and have since declined to a low of 7 Mt in 2017, mainly as a result of increased conversion of perennial to annual crops on the Prairies and the declining effect of the adoption of conservation tillage on cropland.

The conversion of forestsFootnote 8  to other land uses is a prevalent, yet declining, practice in Canada and is mainly due to forest conversion to settlements for resource extraction and cropland expansion. Emissions due to forest conversion fell from 16 Mt in 2005 to 14 Mt in 2017.

ES.5 Canadian economic sectors

For the purposes of analyzing economic trends and policies, it is useful to allocate emissions to the economic sector from which the emissions originate. In general, a comprehensive emission profile for a specific economic sector is developed by reallocating the relevant proportion of emissions from various IPCC subcategories. This reallocation simply recategorizes emissions under different headings and does not change the overall magnitude of Canadian emissions estimates.

GHG emissions trends in Canada’s economic sectors from 2005 to 2017 are consistent with those described for IPCC sectors, with the Oil and Gas and Transportation economic sectors showing emission increases of 23% and 7% respectively since 2005 (Figure ES-7 and Table ES-3). These increases have been more than offset by emission decreases in Electricity (38%), Heavy Industry (16%) and Waste & Others (9%).

Further information on economic sector trends can be found in Chapter 2. Additional information on the IPCC and economic sector definitions, as well as a detailed cross-walk between IPCC and economic sector categories can be found in Part 3 of this report.

Figure ES-7: Breakdown of Canada’s emissions by economic sector (2017)

Figure S-8:  Breakdown of Canada’s emissions by economic sector (2017)

Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Long description for Figure ES-7

Figure ES-7 is a pie chart displaying the breakdown of Canada’s GHG emissions in 2017 by the following seven economic sectors: Oil and Gas, Electricity, Transportation, Heavy Industry, Buildings, Agriculture and Waste & Others. The total GHG emissions equals 716 (Mt CO2 eq.). The following table displays the breakdown of GHG emissions (Mt CO2 eq) (%) for these sectors in 2017.

Breakdown of Canada’s emissions by economic sector (2017)
Economic sector Mt Co2 eq %
Total 716 100%
Oil and Gas 195 27%
Electricity 74 10%
Transportation 174 24%
Heavy Industry 73 10%
Buildings 85 12%
Agriculture 72 10%
Waste & Others 42 6%
Table ES-3: Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector, selected years (Mt CO2 eq)
Economic sector 1990 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
National GHG Total 602 730 711 722 723 722 708 716
Oil and Gas 106 158 176 186 193 192 187 195
Electricity 94 119 84 81 78 81 76 74
Transportation 122 162 172 175 173 174 174 174
Heavy IndustryFootnote a 97 87 80 78 78 77 76 73
Buildings 74 86 86 86 88 86 82 85
AgricultureFootnote b 57 72 70 72 71 71 72 72
Waste & OthersFootnote c 52 47 42 43 42 42 41 42

Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Estimates presented here are under continuous improvement. Historical emissions may be changed in future publications as new data becomes available and methods and models are refined and improved.

ES.6 Provincial and territorial greenhouse gas emissions

Emissions vary significantly by province as a result of population, energy sources and economic structure. All else being equal, economies based on resource extraction will tend to have higher emission levels than service-based economies. Likewise, provinces that rely on fossil fuels for their electricity generation emit relatively more greenhouse gases than those that rely more on hydroelectricity.

Historically, Alberta and Ontario have been the highest emitting provinces. Since 2005, emission patterns in these two provinces have diverged. Emissions in Alberta increased from 231 Mt in 2005 to 273 Mt in 2017 (18%), primarily as a result of the expansion of oil and gas operations (Figure ES-8 and Table ES-4). In contrast, Ontario’s emissions have steadily decreased since 2005 (by 45 Mt or 22%), owing primarily to the closure of coal-fired electricity generation plants.

Quebec experienced a 8.4 Mt (9.8%) decrease from its 2005 emissions level, while British Columbia had a decline of 1.0 Mt (1.5%). Emissions in Saskatchewan increased by 9.8 Mt (14%) between 2005 and 2017. Emissions in Manitoba, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador have also increased since 2005, but to a lesser extent (1.5 Mt or 7.7% and 0.7 Mt or 6.9% respectively). Provinces which have seen more significant decreases in emissions include New Brunswick (5.7 Mt, or a 28% reduction), Nova Scotia (7.6 Mt, or a 33% reduction) and Prince Edward Island (0.2 Mt, or a 10% reduction).

Figure ES-8: Emissions by province and territory in 2005, 2010 and 2017

Figure S-9: Emissions by province in 2005, 2010 and 2017
Long description for Figure ES-8

Figure ES-8 is a bar chart displaying the GHG emissions by province and territory for the following years: 2005, 2010 and 2017. The following table displays the GHG emissions (Mt CO2 eq) for 1990, 2005 and 2017.

Emissions by province and territory in 2005, 2010 and 2017 (Mt CO2 eq)
Province/territory 2005 2010 2017
NL 10 10 11
PE 2 2 2
NS 23 20 16
NB 20 18 14
QC 86 80 78
ON 204 174 159
MB 20 19 22
SK 68 69 78
AB 231 239 273
BC 63 59 62
YT 0.5 0.6 0.5
NT 1.6 1.4 1.3
NU <0.5 0.5 0.6
Table ES-4: greenhouse gas emissions by provinces/territories, selected years (Mt CO2 eq)
Province/territory 1990 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Change (%) 2005 to 2017
Total (Canada) 602 730 711 722 723 722 708 714 -2.0%
NL 9.4 9.9 9.4 9.4 10 11 11 10 6.9%
PE 1.9 2.0 2.1 1.7 1.7 1.7 1.8 1.8 -10%
NS 20 23 19 18 16 17 16 16 -33%
NB 16 20 17 15 14 14 15 14 -28%
QC 86 86 80 80 78 78 78 78 -9.8%
ON 180 204 169 168 166 165 162 159 -22%
MB 18 20 20 21 21 21 21 22 7.7%
SK 44 68 71 73 76 79 76 78 14%
AB 173 231 261 271 276 275 264 273 18%
BC 52 63 60 61 60 59 61 62 -1.5%
YT 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 -1.3%
NT Not applicable (NA) 1.6 1.5 1.3 1.5 1.7 1.6 1.2 -19%
NU NA 0.4 0.5 0.7 0.7 0.6 0.6 0.6 33%

Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

NA = Not applicable

ES.7 National inventory arrangements

Environment and Climate Change Canada is the single national entity with responsibility for preparing and submitting the National GHG Inventory to the UNFCCC and for managing the supporting processes and procedures.

The institutional arrangements for the preparation of the inventory include formal agreements on data collection and estimate development; a quality management plan, including an improvement plan; the ability to identify key categories and generate quantitative uncertainty analysis; a process for performing recalculations due to improvements; procedures for official approval; and a working archive system to facilitate third-party review.

Submission of information regarding the national inventory arrangements, including details on institutional arrangements for inventory preparation, is also an annual requirement under the UNFCCC reporting guidelines on annual inventories (see Chapter 1, Section 1.2).

Structure of submission

The UNFCCC requirements include the annual compilation and submission of both the National Inventory Report (NIR) and the Common Reporting Format (CRF) tables. The CRF tables are a series of standardized data tables, containing mainly numerical information, which are submitted electronically. The NIR contains the information to support the CRF tables, including a comprehensive description of the methodologies used in compiling the inventory, the data sources, the institutional structures, and the quality assurance and quality control procedures.

Part 1 of the NIR includes Chapters 1 to 8. Chapter 1 (Introduction) provides an overview of Canada’s legal, institutional and procedural arrangements for producing the inventory (i.e. the national inventory arrangements), quality assurance and quality control procedures as well as a description of Canada’s facility emission-reporting system. Chapter 2 provides an analysis of Canada’s GHG emission trends in accordance with the UNFCCC reporting structure, as well as a breakdown of emission trends by Canadian economic sectors. Chapters 3 to 7 provide descriptions and additional analysis for each sector, according to UNFCCC reporting requirements. Chapter 8 presents a summary of recalculations and planned improvements.

Part 2 of the NIR consists of Annexes 1 to 7, which provide a key category analysis, an inventory uncertainty assessment, detailed explanations of estimation methodologies, Canada’s energy balance, completeness assessments, emission factors and information on ozone and aerosol precursors.

Part 3 comprises Annexes 8 to 13, which present rounding procedures, summary tables of GHG emissions at the national level and for each provincial and territorial jurisdiction, sector and gas, as well as additional details on the GHG intensity of electricity generation. Detailed GHG data is also available on the Government of Canada’s Open Data website

Executive summary references

[CAIT] Climate Analysis Indicators Tool. 2017. Washington (DC):World Resources Institute.

[ECCC] Environment and Climate Change Canada. 2018a. Canada’s greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions projections.

[ECCC] Environment and Climate Change Canada. 2018b. Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change: Second annual synthesis report on the status of implementation.

[StatCan] Statistics Canada. No date (a). Table 36-10-0369-01: Gross Domestic Product at 2012 constant prices, expenditure-based, annual (dollars). Last updated December 14, 2018 (accessed December 14, 2018).

[StatCan] Statistics Canada. No date (b). Table 17-10-0005-01 (formerly CANSIM 051-0001 Estimates of population, by age group and sex for July 1, Canada, provinces and territories, annual (persons unless otherwise noted). Last updated December 13, 2018. (accessed December 13, 2018).

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